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A complete guide to Microsoft Advertising and Bing Ads

We shared our tricks and tips on Microsoft Ads management to help your business grow.

The power of online advertising is outstanding, particularly paid search. But if you’re not including Microsoft Advertising as part of your digital marketing strategy, you’re missing out.

Why? Because the demographics and people that you can target on Microsoft is not something to be missed out on.

When it comes to PPC advertising through Microsoft, the terminology and product names can be a little confusing. Microsoft Bing is an online search engine much like Google. It is owned and operated by Microsoft and its search results are used to power Alexa, the virtual assistant from Amazon.

Microsoft Advertising, which used to be known as Bing Ads, is a service that enables online advertising - including pay-per-click (PPC) - across Microsoft Bing and other search engines.

What is Microsoft Advertising?

Formerly known as Bing Ads, Microsoft Advertising isn’t restricted to just Bing these days. Now, Microsoft actually runs three separate search networks through their advertising, including Bing, Yahoo and AOL. So when you advertise with Microsoft, you’re actually getting access to a whole host of different audiences. And let’s not forget, audiences coming through search as opposed to social media or display ads already have a strong intent to buy, meaning higher CTRs (click-through-rates).

Since paid search is one of the most common forms of online advertising, a lot of marketers are curious as to which to use for their campaigns: Microsoft or Google Ads. The fact is though, the two have many differences and offer contrasting benefits, so ideally, it’s best to make use of both platforms.

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What is the difference between Microsoft Advertising and Google Ads?

First things first, the purpose of both Microsoft Advertising and Google Ads is the same. Both are online advertising tools designed to help businesses reach specific audiences, drive traffic and increase revenue, however there are different features and benefits associated with Google and Bing advertising, which could make using a combination of the two advantageous to your campaigns.

Google comprises two advertising networks - the search engine network - where ads appear on the SERPs, and the display network, where advertisers create display ads to appear on a vast number of websites across the internet.

Microsoft Advertising is connected to three search engines - Bing, Yahoo, and AOL - so when you advertise on one platform, your ad is shown across all three. This means your campaigns are visible to searchers across all Bing, Yahoo, and AOL owned and operated sites, as well as various partner sites.

There are other differences between the two, though, including:

  • Keywords: Both Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising offer a keyword research tool, broad match, and negative keyword targeting. The main difference between the two platforms is that the traffic volume for keywords is much lower on Microsoft Advertising.
  • Click-through-rate: As mentioned in our CTR guide, a good CTR will depend entirely upon the industry average. However, it’s been reported that since Yahoo and MSN both offer financial reporting, Microsoft Ads tend to have higher CTRs for shopping and financial service search verticals. That’s because they offer a variety of different shopping and financial resources, so ads in those search verticals on those platforms tend to reach highly-interested prospects, therefore receiving more engagement, leading to a higher CTR.
  • Reach: Yes, it’s no secret that Google Ads boasts the biggest market share, however Microsoft Advertising is growing rapidly, with the platform stating that with Microsoft Audience Network, you can reach almost 140 million total unique visitors across MSN and Outlook.com. So if you aren’t using Microsoft Bing… that’s quite a missed opportunity!
  • Potential ROI: By ROI, we mean your return on investment to Google Ads as an advertising platform. According to Google, it “conservatively estimated” that for every $1 a business spent on Google Ads, they received $8 in profit through Google Search and Ads. That’s an 800% ROI just from using Google Ads.
  • Competition: when it comes to keyword bidding, competition tends to be higher on Google Ads, making Microsoft Advertising an attractive alternative. According to TheeDigital (2019) campaigns on Microsoft Advertising face approximately 36% less competition than Google Ads.
  • Demographics: Some of the key demographics of the two platforms differ; Microsoft’s audience is typically older than that of the Google Ads’ audience
  • Granular targeting: With Microsoft Advertising, you can adjust settings such as network, location, language and ad rotation at ad group level, not just campaign level as with Google Ads.

What are the benefits of using Microsoft Advertising?

Microsoft Advertising comes with a whole host of benefits to take advantage of. Some of which may make it a preferable platform to Google Ads.

These include:

  • Nearly three-quarters of Microsoft Advertising users are over the age of 35. If your target audience is slightly older, this is the search network you’re most likely to reach them on.
  • Half of this network has an income of $75,000 or over. In fact, nearly one third of the audience has a household income of over $100,000. So for brands in the luxury space, this makes Microsoft Bing ideal.
  • Not only do users tend to have a higher income, they also spend on average 22% more on purchases through Microsoft Bing than any other search engine.
  • Generally, Microsoft Advertising faces less competition on its keywords. This helps lower your CPC (cost-per-click), which means you’re paying less to target a demographic with more disposable income.
  • In fact, CPC has been found to be between 32.5% and 59.2% cheaper than Google Ads.
  • Bing users that click ads tend to be more engaged with the sites and post-click landing pages they’re sent to. They also convert at much higher rates. A 2020 study from Search Engine People found that in the automotive industry, users were converting at 10%-56% higher rates than Google Ads.
  • You have increased granular control over your ads, what information you want to include, and the demographics you are targeting.
  • Microsoft Ads has the advantage over Google Ads when it comes to device targeting. Bing allows a company to target a consumer based on the specific device they’re using, as well as the OS installed on it. Similarly, Microsoft Ads target mobile users specifically and allow advertisers the ability to discount desktop viewers altogether.
  • In one Microsoft case study, remarketing was recommended for a campaign for a short-term loan company, Lending Stream. The idea was to retarget users who had engaged with their site before and get them to return and convert. The result was a conversion rate increase by 80% and a CPA (cost-per-acquisition) decrease of 77%.
  • You’ll have access to audiences from Bing, Yahoo and AOL.
  • After creating a Microsoft Bing account, the platform enables the option to directly import your existing Google Ads campaigns into Microsoft Advertising. With just a few clicks, your campaign is up and running without having to recreate everything from scratch.
  • Microsoft Advertising utilises AI-powered audience targeting and customer intent. Unlike other platforms, the Microsoft Audience Network gathers data from Microsoft-owned sources like Outlook, Skype and LinkedIn users, which makes targeting particularly intelligent. This network also promises a wider net, targeting 63 million search users that Google can’t reach.

In fact, Microsoft itself states: ‘With one ad buy through Microsoft Advertising, you can reach 18 million unique searchers on the Microsoft Search Network who represent 441 million monthly desktop searches. This accounts for 21.3% of the search market in the United Kingdom.

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Microsoft Advertising campaign management: How to do it

It’s all very well setting up and executing a well-thought-out PPC campaign using Microsoft Bing Ads, but if you’re not managing it correctly and looking to continuously improve and react to your campaign results, then you won’t be able to guarantee its success.

Note that when we refer to PPC, we mean pay-per-click ads, which link through to your brand or service’s website or products. Before getting immersed into Microsoft Advertising, read our PPC guide which will give some context to the various forms of this kind of advertising and how it works.

A question you might be asking yourself when thinking about how to run a campaign on Microsoft Advertising, is whether or not you need an agency or a tool to help you manage it. There’s fundamentally no right or wrong answer here. All of it depends on your business and what you want from Microsoft Advertising.

When it comes to a PPC agency, someone will manage your entire campaigns for you. This means that you’re not dedicating hours of valuable time learning about how to manage your campaigns by yourself. You’re leaving it to the experts who will take care of the whole thing.

However, if you don’t want to surrender control of your accounts, a PPC management tool may be the better option. These allow you to remain in control of your accounts and prevent you from paying agency prices. By choosing the right PPC management tool, like Adzooma, you’ll be able to save valuable time managing and optimising your campaigns by yourself, but with access to personalised insights and intelligent opportunities to help you along the way.

How much does it cost to advertise on Microsoft Bing?

In order to determine how cost effective Microsoft Advertising, you’ll need to look at four performance benchmarks, which will vary by industry:

  • Average click-through rate (CTR) on Bing by industry
  • Average cost-per-click (CPC) on Bing by industry
  • Average conversion rate (CVR) on Bing by industry
  • Average cost-per-action (CPA) on Bing by industry

Despite the fact that budgets fluctuate by industry and advertiser, Microsoft Advertising is able to offer cheaper clicks on Bing, with PPC advertisers getting more for their money - purely because there is less competition for advertisers bidding. Figures vary, but CPCs can differ anywhere from 32.5% to 60.2% less than Google Ads. In fact, our research shows, that:

If you’re working with a smaller PPC budget, you’ll have to be meticulous with your bid management so Microsoft Advertising might well be the solution. In essence, getting the traffic you need at a lower cost will mean a better ROI.

FAQS

How do I set up a Microsoft Advertising account?

It’s easy enough to set up a Microsoft Advertising account - just have a read of our handy how-to guide and then check out Microsoft ads to get started.

Microsoft recommends firstly reviewing your budget and bid strategy, expanding your targeting across different locations as well as devices, and assessing whether the keywords you are bidding on and the ads you are showing are truly relevant.

Are Bing ads worth it?

Yes, when set up and managed effectively, Microsoft Advertising can be a powerful tool to use as part of your PPC campaigns.

For best results, we’d recommend using Microsoft Advertising in conjunction with Google Ads where possible, and use Adzooma to help manage your campaigns.

Is Microsoft Advertising the same as Bing Ads?

Yes, Bing Ads was rebranded as Microsoft Advertising in 2019, which preceded Microsoft decision to rebrand the Bing search engine as Microsoft Bing in 2020.

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